Hundreds evacuated after volcano erupts on central Philippine island

A volcano has belched a plume of ash and steam into the night sky in the central Philippines

Jim Gomez
Tuesday 04 June 2024 14:10 BST
Philippines Volcano
Philippines Volcano

A volcano belched a plume of ash and steam into the night sky in the central Philippines in a powerful explosion that sent more than 700 people fleeing to evacuation camps.

The explosion of Mount Kanlaon Monday night on Negros Island triggered sirens across Canlaon, a city of nearly 60,000 people south of the volcano.

Hundreds fled in government trucks to safety, Canlaon Mayor Jose Chubasco Cardenas said, adding more than 150 people were in two evacuation centers while others moved to relatives’ homes away from the volcano. No casualties were reported.

The eruption prompted authorities to raise an alert level to two in a five-step warning system, indicating a “moderate level of volcanic unrest." Kanlaon is one of the country’s 24 most-active volcanoes.

“The explosion was very strong according to villagers, some of whom were screaming in fear,” Cardenas told The Associated Press by telephone. “They felt like they were in a war zone because they could hear the sound of the ashfall hitting their roofs.”

Philippines Volcano
Philippines Volcano

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said at least 796 people from 170 families were moved to evacuation centers in Canlaon and other cities and towns around the volcano and gave assurances that government aircraft were on standby if needed.

Similar volcanic eruptions elsewhere in the Philippines have drawn tourists, but Cardenas said he ordered the temporary closure of resorts in the city, including those that offer mountain-viewing and trail-hiking, to minimize the chances of injuries in case Kanlaon erupts again.

He said police will strictly enforce a no-entry regulation in a 4 -kilometer (2.4-mile) permanent danger zone around the 2,435-meter (7,988-foot) Kanlaon, the highest peak in the central Philippines.

Teresito Bacolcol, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, told AP that Monday night’s eruption scattered ash as far as 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). It was difficult to say if Kanlaon’s restiveness would worsen or the volcano, which has erupted several times in recent decades, would settle down, he said.

Located in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a region prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Philippines is also lashed by about 20 typhoons and storms a year, making the Southeast Asian nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.

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